16th January 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Having been in outstanding form since September, Thiago Alcantara's unfortunate thigh injury, which occurred while away on a training camp in Qatar, is a real blow for Bayern Munich.

With the enormously talented midfielder set to miss up to a month, Bayern will be desperately hoping he'll be fit in time for their Champions League tie with Arsenal in February. "It's a real shame. Thiago was in very, very good form in the last few games before the winter break," Philipp Lahm said.

While his manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was also stung by the news, lamenting: "It is a pity, but these things can happen. I hope he won't be out for too long. Three weeks, maybe."

In light of what an immense performance he put in against RB Leipzig just prior to the winter break, the setback is indeed a major disappointment.

Throughout their top of the table tussle with the Red Bulls, Thiago, who was deployed just behind forward Robert Lewandowski, epitomised precisely why he's such an exquisite footballer.

While his goal showed off his rapid anticipation, and his perfectly weighted assist for Xabi Alonso's goal illustrated his enviable composure, it was his intuitive movement that gave him the perfect stage to disrupt Leipzig's defensive structure.

Despite Leipzig being one of the most difficult teams in Europe to break down, due to their hexagonal 4-2-2-2 defensive shape and well synchronised pressing, Thiago's spatial understanding and speed of thought saw him act as a key figure in Bayern being able to create openings vs Leipzig's astute defensive setup.

He'd drop deep into true central midfield locations to help Alonso and Arturo Vidal progress the ball forward, pick up space in the 10 spaces, where he expertly avoided the attention of Naby Keita and Diego Demme, and drift right to assist Arjen Robben. Unquestionably, however, his penchant to push over to the left half space provided Bayern with the best avenue around Ralph Hasenhüttl's high octane outfit.

By venturing over to the left, Thiago and his team were able to continually create advantageous scenarios for themselves. With fullback, David Alaba, and left winger, Douglas Costa, providing width and further unpredictability with their movement, plus the fact Lewandowski would drift over for additional support, Bayern overloaded this side to great effect.

This excellently executed tactic often manufactured 4v2 or 4v3 overloads for the home side to manipulate Leipzig and access the final third. Moreover, Thiago also thrived as a result, for he had the freedom and intelligence to exploit any openings, whether on the wing, the half space or in the middle.

Then, once in possession, Thiago used his mesmerising dribbling skills, sublime range of passing, enviable awareness and superb resistance to opposition pressure to wreak havoc against a Leipzig side that found him a hugely elusive proposition all game.

His explosive acceleration also worked wonders for him, allowing him to speedily drive away from any impending challenges, in a match where he not only ignited so much of the Bavarians' most incisive attacking moves, but also orchestrated so much of their slower, more controlled build up passages.

Moreover, his fantastic statistics from the game only punctuate what a telling influence the former Barcelona prodigy had. He engineered a notable four chances, unleashed five shots and successfully completed five dribbles, while his six interceptions, two tackles and three won aerial duels suitably revealed his defensive excellence.

Amid the rumours and inuendo linking him with a move back to his formative club, Barcelona, after witnessing such a polished performance, it's hard to envisage Bayern Munich even contemplate getting rid of their prized asset.

"He's a very important player who can play in any number of different midfield positions," Ancelotti explained. "Very few players possess his quality and flexibility."

The genial manager's certainly right, and you can guarantee he can't wait for his star pupil to return as soon as possible. After all, Thiago really is one of the best players in the world right now, which his showcase against Leipzig resoundingly verified.

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